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VHP, artists battle over nudes' exhibition

Posted on Feb 06, 05:52PM | IANS

New Delhi, Feb 6 : A group of over 50 women activists of the Durga Vahini, an arm of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, protested outside the Delhi Art Gallery at Hauz Khas here, angry over an exhibition titled "The Naked and the Nude" at the gallery.

The exhibition, comprising 258 paintings by Indian artists featuring nude bodies, both male and female, painted since 1900, opened Feb 1.

Right-wing organisations denounced the exhibition, saying: "Nudity will not be tolerated in art in view of the recent incidents of gender atrocities and rape."

A group of nearly 20 intellectuals, however, rushed to protect the freedom to exhibit such art work, saying the protests were part of a "larger and systematic campaign to muzzle the freedom of expression and culture".

Despite the protests, the exhibition continues under tight police protection. Gallery owner Ashish Anand said no painting has been removed; the art works were not objectionable. The paintings, by the masters of modern Indian art, have been sourced from the gallery's own collection.

Refusing to be identified, an activist of Durga Vahini said: "Nudity and blatant show of women's bodies will not be tolerated."

The women shouted: "Hum Bharat ki nari hai. Nangapan bardasht nahi (We are women of India, nudity is not tolerable.)"

A spokesperson for the gallery said the exhibition was just another attempt by the gallery to display the different aspects of modern Indian art. Gallery owner Ashish Anand said this exhibition was displaying the biggest such collections in the past decade.

The gallery had earlier curated similar exhibitions on the history of Indian landscapes, Bengal art and fine art prints. Some of its exhibits have been almost 400 years old.

Police succeeded in dispersing the protestors, who held up pink-paper placards, by 3 p.m.